Perdue: Trump plan will mitigate anxiety on farms

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said a $12 billion federal ag mitigation program is aimed at stemming what he termed “legitimate anxiety” on American farms in a a tense environment in which key trading partners are retaliating against American crops and livestock for Trump administration hard-line moves with China, Mexico and other nations.
The nation’s top agricultural official spoke with this newspaper and other media last Thursday following a wetland tour at Lake Panorama in Guthrie County.
“Obviously, there is legitimate anxiety,” Perdue said. “That’s why President Trump said early on he knew that in any kind of trade disruption agriculture would be disproportionately affected — thus the mitigation plan that’s been rolled out.”
Perdue said every farmer would prefer a good crop at a good price over a government check.
“That’s what we’re working toward,” Perdue said.
On Tuesday, the USDA released details on the Market Facilitation Program (MFP) to provide payments to corn, cotton, dairy, hog, sorghum, soybean, and wheat producers starting Sept. 4.
Longer term, Perdue said the administration will work to create a positive “domino effect” with trade.
“The president does not like multi-laterals but he does like bi-laterals,” Perdue said of trade pacts.
That said, the secretary is optimistic for a renewed NAFTA. The president had threatened to pull the United States out of the long-standing three-nation partership with Canada and Mexico. Negotiators are working to iron out a new NAFTA.
Trump, though, as recently as this weekend, has said the United States could enter a trade deal with just Mexico, leaving Canada out, unless that nation opens up its dairy markets and makes other concessions to U.S. producers.
“Canada has been very intransigent in coming to the table,” Perdue said. “I think they finally realize that we’re serious regarding their dairy quotas and their dairy tariffs that don’t allow our access in their market, where we’ve had access for them. You have a few other irritants there, but by and large, for U.S. agriculture, we need NAFTA restored.” 

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